Patient Activism as a Means of Promoting Change in the Medical System
I have learned a lot during the past upcoming 4 years of running this blog. I have learned that my 50 years as a physician has not provided me with all the understanding of what patients think and what they are concerned about regarding us physicians and the medical care system in general. I have learned that though I have virtually always had a professionally comfortable relationship with my patients and their families and they with me, since none told me otherwise, there may have been times when the relationship may not have been as comfortable as I thought, perhaps because I was not directly and frankly informed. The same may be said of the patient’s relationship with other components of their medical care and the medical system in general. Reading some of the threads on this blog such as I Hate Doctors and the threads on patient modesty, infant male circumcision and history taking amongst others show the intensity and extent of discomfort patients hold with doctors and the medical system.
I have been pleased that my blog has enabled many patients to ventilate here their traumatic experiences and serious concerns about doctors and the care but also the attention they received or didn’t receive. But as I look at what has been written here, I think that many of the concerns do have merit for the medical system to be aware and consider for change. However, I don’t think that simply writing and ventilating to this blog is the way to effectively to encourage change.
Particularly with the patient modesty threads, I have suggested to my visitors to promptly and frankly talk to their doctors about their concerns but also think about becoming formally activistic in their attempt for change. This means that likeminded visitors should get together and form groups which can then extend its membership to folks outside of this blog. Then, there can be actions devised and taken to make their views clear not only to their physicians but also to medical institutions, associations, medical boards and political representatives.
What I would like to read on this thread regarding patient activism to change the medical system is my visitor’s own views of the practicality and the possible effectiveness of such an approach. I also would like to read what actions could be taken that would be reasonable and acceptable to the members of the activistic group.
The reason I have devised this thread is because I suspect that, unless I am wrong, my suggestions regarding activism in particular with regard to the extensive discussion here of patient modesty issues have not been moving along. So I think it is important first to discuss what everyone thinks about taking an active stand and publicizing that stand rather than simply moan, groan and complain to each other. I have said that the first active stand is to bring the personal concerns directly to the doctor’s attention. Why should that be difficult for many patients? Is there a sense of power inequality between doctor and patient which precludes open communication from the patient to the doctor? Is such an inequality really more imagined than real? And so on.
Please let keep this thread simply on the topic of patient activism to change medical practice and the medical system. Don’t go into the details of the various patient concerns and experiences. The presentation of the concerns and experiences should be written to the individual pertinent threads. Again, the issue here is what can all patients with complaints but with suggestions for change do to mitigate their concerns and promote the change they envision? ..Maurice.
Graphic: Created by me with ArtRage.